Brian Klemmer wrote a book called The Compassionate Samurai. He passed away this year and I am sad to have never met him. I am grateful, however, that I was able to take some of the leadership seminars he developed through his company Klemmer & Associates (www.klemmer.com). One of the lessons I learned through taking their classes was to differentiate between fact and fiction.
In life, all kinds of stuff happens to us. I am talking about all the life events, small to big, they undeniably happened to us. For example, my parents got divorced and subsequently spent 10 years fighting each other ferociously, often screaming at each other over the phone. This happened. It is a fact.
Since they were fighting about me I felt that it was my fault and that I wasn't good enough because if I was somehow good enough they wouldn't be fighting about me. While this happened as well, it only happened in my head. It's a story I made up. This is fiction.
How can we test this hypothesis? Well, we could go to other people who witnessed these fights and ask them how they were affected. We would hear a different story from every single person. That means, the event was not responsible for the story, the person was.
There are millions of other examples I could give you, maybe you can even think of one for yourself. Maybe someone told you something today and "it" stressed you out all afternoon. Well, that this person told you whatever they told you, is an undeniable fact. But the meaning you attached to that fact, is completely made up. By you!
Think about it! Say you lost your job. That's a fact, it clearly happened. You felt rejected and you got angry at your boss because you felt that he did not value your contribution and now you feel sorry for yourself because of what he did to you! See all of that is fiction, it's made up, it only goes on in your head! And we know that this is true because someone else might loose that same job and react and feel totally different about it!
What is the benefit of knowing this? Well, it opens up two options for us. The first one is that we can chose how we react to these events. And because that is sometimes easier said than done, the second option is that we can at least take responsibility for our own made up stories, emotions and reactions.
Food for thought.